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Staff Intensive Programs

Staff Intensive Programs are for children and adolescents with histories of extremely destructive, disruptive behaviors who need to learn healthy approaches to controlling behaviors, emotions, and thoughts while repairing relationships with and reconnecting with their family members. These intensive residential programs offer specialized services, including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, gender-specific services for girls and young women, and resocialization for adolescent males who have a history of being sexually abusive. The program provides a highly-structured, therapeutic, safe living situation. Services include intensive individual and milieu therapy, with families being offered case management, family therapy, and parenting education when appropriate.  

Staff Intensive Programs are located on the Sweetser Campuses at:

Belfast, Rockport, Saco and Winterport

Information for Clients and Families


The goal of Sweetser's Staff Intensive Programs is to transition hard to place, behaviorally disturbed youth to community-based living situations.


We believe that strengthening family connections and supporting parents to be the best parents they can be is the most effective approach to protecting our youth. These beliefs form the philosophical foundation of Sweetser's residential programs and shape our work from our initial family contact through discharge. Interventions are matched to the needs of those we serve ~ we build upon the family's own strengths and resources, never viewing the family as deficient or needing repair.

As partners in service with families, we move away from controlling their relationships and towards collaboration. We are committed to working in a collaborative partnership with individuals, their families, and other members of their support systems. In the least intrusive or restrictive manner possible always taking into account their unique cultural, ethnic, and personal characteristics.

Our service approach is strengths-based and person centered, building the individual's and family's own strengths and resources to develop achievable solutions. By promoting a mutually respectful, collaborative partnership we empower individuals and their families to manage their own path to recovery.

Historically, residential programs have concerned themselves with child protection. While protection and safety are important goals, an over emphasis moves helping professionals into a position of control that stifles children and sends the message to their families that they are incompetent and untrustworthy. We have moved away from this stifling control to a stance of collaborating with families and our partners in care to assure safety for all family members and protection for the child/adolescent.

We also believe that patterns of unhelpful and inappropriate behaviors repeat themselves across systems. We always consider how our "helping systems" influences how families interact with each other and with us. We constantly ask ourselves how we may be contributing towards ongoing problems and/or communications difficulties. Children and adolescents experiencing a severe emotional disturbance and/or addiction problems, and their families, must have access to child-focused, family-driven, culturally sensitive, and competent treatment services throughout the time they are served.

What Our Clients Are Saying

Our patients have many needs so Jeanette called the unit to offer her time.  She spoke with a patient who had been having extreme difficulty.  Jeanette was able to sit with her for a consistent amount of time, allowing this woman to feel safe enough to share her thoughts and fears.  The patient...

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Executive Address: 2 Pendleton Drive Saco, Maine          Mailing Address: 50 Moody Street Saco, Maine 04072-0892          Phone: 1-800-434-3000                           Copyright © 2019  Sweetser